It would be very enlightening if you would comment on the Nassim Nicholas Taleb (“The Black Swan”) attack on the use of Gaussian (normal bell curve) mathematics as the foundation of finance. As you may know, Taleb is a fan of Mandelbrot, whose mathematics account for fat tails. He argues that the bell curve doesn’t […]

# Author Archives: MP

## Did Common Core work?

Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum does such a wonderful job reporting on edu research. Here he is, taking on a fascinating study that attempted to understand what effect the US’s Common Core standards had. Surprising results!: How do you a study a policy as far-reaching as the Common Core, particularly one that was introduced alongside a host […]

## This is also part of A Mathematician’s Lament, by the way.

From the famous Mathematician’s Lament. Not that I necessarily cosign the whole thing (I definitely don’t!) but I wish more mathematicians were willing to imagine that less math could be part of the solution, someday, even if in today’s world cutting math requirements would introduce dangerous inequities. It’s an idea worth getting used to.

## No, I don’t think the job market should decide whether or not we teach math.

I understand where the confusion is coming from, but I don’t think school should just reflect job market needs. I also don’t think that science is a more meaningful context for math. I think pure math can be meaningful, and it’s easier to apply the math to new situations if it’s mastered in a more […]

## The Mathematical Modelers’ Hippocratic Oath

The Financial Modelers’ Manifesto was a proposal for more responsibility in risk management and quantitative finance written by financial engineers Emanuel Derman and Paul Wilmott. The manifesto includes a Modelers’ Hippocratic Oath. The Modelers’ Hippocratic Oath I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations. Though I will use models boldly to estimate value, I will not be overly impressed […]

## Benoit Mandelbrot, Beauty and Finance

Is there anything that shouts “mathematical beauty!” quite like fractals? Fractals are a core pillar of how mathematicians and educators sell math to the public. That makes sense — they really are beautiful in a way that is both visual and intellectually pleasing. In fact, just a few hours ago I showed this image to […]

## How much real-world complexity can we tolerate in math class?

I saw this, and I have a reaction: Topic that I ruminate on a lot came up in my class: There are ways to engage students in what I think can be fairly called math modelling in contained (1-3 hour) segments, i.e. @ddmeyer's 3 act math The same seems less true of science ed.; modeling […]

## Trying to write arbitrage puzzles

I’ve been trying to write little arbitrage puzzles. I’m hoping to make them accessible to kids. Here’s one I’m working on now. It might rain on April 15th. Then again, it might not. Your first friend agrees to make a bet. If it rains, you get $10. If it doesn’t, you have to pay your […]

## Is this OK?

Is it OK to abstract away all the history (and suicide) for the sake of a good puzzle? Forget for a second whether or not this particular video is ok. (I wouldn’t show it to my students; you never knows what someone is dealing with.) But doesn’t this say something about mathematical culture? What are […]

## Reading Chaim Grade’s “The Yeshiva”

This is a book that I first read when I was 18 and studying in yeshiva in Israel. But I didn’t really read it very well back then. This is for two reasons. First, I wasn’t sleeping well at all, and I read Grade’s novel only between the hours of 11 and 1. Second, I […]